Regional News of Monday, 12 November 2012

Source: Agyemang Ransford

Lack Of Extension Services Affects Beekeeping In Berekum

The chairman in charge of Progressive Beekeepers Association, Berekum Municipality, Mr. James Ofori Yeboah has lamented that the current climate change has really affected beekeeping industry within the Municipality. According to the chairman, in the past bees were kept within the wild forests, however, the excessive pressure exerted on forests in the Municipality through domestic activities have forced a sizeable number of the bees out of the forest zone. Additionally, bushfires are also contributory factors towards the disappearance of the bee swarm.
The chairman made this known during a day’s sensitization programme opened at Berekum Educational College by the Progressive Beekeepers’ Association of Brekum. The Programme which was jointly funded by DANIDA, USAID and European Union attracted over 200 members of the association. The sensitization forum was under the theme “improving beekeeping industry to alleviate hardships on beekeepers in Berekum Municipality”.
The chairman was quoted as saying “due to the unfortunate phenomenon, beekeepers in the Municipality are compelled to keep their bees in cages. However, as a result of lack of training and skills on the part of the beekeepers, the difficulty has gotten ripple effect on the industry and necessitated the formation of the association in 2000 to find a lasting antidote to the predicament before it gets out of hand completely”.
Mr. Yebaoh reiterated that, in the wake of the problem, the association was compelled to make an appeal to BUSAC Fund to address the need for extension services for education on modern ways of keeping bees. He took the opportunity to commend BUSAC Fund/COWI: DANIDA, USAID and the EU for giving for their immense contribution towards the upkeep of the association, most especially for their advocacy actions. A similar appreciation was sent to We are also grateful to Center of Posterity Interest Organization (COPIO), a Techiman Based NGO for offering useful suggestions that led to the success of their numerous advocacy programmes
Amidst standing ovation from the members, the chairman pointed out that though beekeepers in the Municipality have business relationship with some Italians they lack extension service support hence their inability to meet the demand of their commercial partners in Italy. He took the opportunity to make a passionate to appeal the Berekum Municipal Agric Directorate to provide beekeepers in the Municipality with agric extension officers because beekeeping is one of the non-traditional farming that has contributed immensely towards the alleviation of poverty in the Municipality, most especially among rural communities.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Municipal Director in charge of Agric, Mr. Kyei Bafour Owusu disclosed that beekeeping is one of the reliable non-traditional farming that has been chosen by the Ministry of Food and Agric (MOFA) to alleviate poverty amongst Ghanaians, most especially among those within deprived communities. To augment that purposeful dream , the Berekum Municipal Directorate of agric has put in place a number of pragmatic measures to support farmers in the municipality improve upon their existing agricultural knowledge , adding that MOFA has agricultural responsibility to transform knowledge. This according to the Municipal Director will help farmers improve their farming methodologies.
According to Mr. Kyei-Baffour, statistics indicate that nontraditional farmers currently operating in the municipality hardly get technical and other agricultural related assistance, hence the decision by the Municipal Agric Directorate to involve them in the annual farmers’ day celebration. The Director accepted the fact that the agric extension officers in the municipality are not enough , however, even with the few ones farmers are not making good use of them, adding that the municipality have been divided into eighteen agric zones to enable the few technical officers give the necessary services to farmers.
Mr. John Yaw Akparep, business service provider/consultant working under BUSAC Fund also contributed immensely towards the success of the day’s programme. Educating the over 200 participants on the findings of a recent research report into problems of beekeeping in the Municipality and ways of addressing them, Mr. Akparep revealed that the Municipality has over 200 farming communities and over 36 farm settlements with only thirteen (13) agric extension officers with six (6) assistance. He disclosed that the fact that the over 600 beekeepers are competing with the other crop farmers in the municipality, the alarming phenomenon called for advocacy to draw the attention of the Municipal Agric Directorate to support beekeepers acquire extension officers that will help educate beekeepers on the production of bees so as to improve upon bee production in order to realize its full benefits. The business consultant therefore related the success of a similar advocacy programme in the Jaman South District of Brong Ahafo Region and express hope that this advocacy also lead to similar outcome but required commitment and support of the association.
He stressed that people currently into beekeeping has been able to get a lot of money out of it to educate their children to the highest level of education. Considering how beekeeping industry is thriving in the Berekum Municipality, the business consultant described the area as very conducive for beekeeping and encouraged members of the association to put in more efforts as they advocate for getting extension service support.
Mr. Akparep later noted that there is the need for members of the association to try their maximum best by making the industry more attractive. This he said is because honey is one of the recognized commodities in the Ghanaian market. The participants were further made to understand that bee flourish well in the dry season. However, they need both forage and water hence the need to make use of moisture and dry environments.
In an opening forum, the members called for membership strengthening. The members explained that there are hundreds of beekeepers in the municipality yet most of them are feeling reluctant to join the association. They therefore appealed to the executive members to endeavour to employ proactive strategies worthy enough to attract other beekeepers in Berekum and her neigbouring environs to join the association. They further expressed great resentment on the ploy by other members of the association to commercialize adulterated honey. According to the sizeable number of the members who had the opportunity to take the floor, the decision to sell contaminated honey has the tendency of crippling the industry in the municipality therefore it would a positive action for such recalcitrant members to put an end to their unfortunate actions.
The acting Municipal Environmental officer, Jackson Dwiraso who chaired the occasion urged the executive members to intensify their membership drive purposely to attract more women thereby empowering them. He revealed that the medicinal value associated with honey cannot be underestimated. Accordingly hypertension (blood pressure), obesity and cardiovascular diseases are some of the common ailments that can be cured as a result of continuous use hone.

The monitor working under BUSAC………………….. Fund advised the executive members of the association to make judicious use of the fund and desist from channeling it to other areas that has no bearing with the advocacy.